September 28, 2012
True or false: The nation is in the midst of a heated, hard-fought, every-vote-counts presidential campaign.
Or Scott wouldn't it even be a better representation of popular vote if every state simply agreed to award its electoral college votes proportionally to its own popular vote instead of having 100% of its electoral votes handed to the winner of a simple 51% majority like here in Mass.
Yes, because now regardless of whether a candidate wins by 51% or 81% in a state all the electoral votes go to the winner
It would be the simplest solution, except that you can't divide up the votes accurately enough - unless you can agree that someone could cast .53 electoral votes for Obama and .47 for Romney, for example.
Most easily illustrated in a small state like Maine with 4 votes. If one candidate wins 60% to 40%, then the EVs should be 2.4 to 1.6. If you cast them 2-2 or 3-1, that's a big difference. Considering 54% to 46% in the national vote is a "blowout win", you could see how that could blow up in a hurry.
I've always felt that the winner in the presidential election should be the candidate with the most votes. And I especially agree this is the case when"my"candidate loses. Whatever usefulness the Electoral College had, I believe we are past that point now.
Only in politics would a plan to decide a winner by picking the person who receives the most votes have to be considered "ingenious." And of course, the nation would lose its collective ability to identify all Ohio towns by what it looks like inside their local high school gymnasium or VFW hall.
A national recount would be a nightmare. Easier method : Winner of any state gets 50% of the electoral votes; with the other half of the votes being distributed proportionally. There would be a difference in a candidate winning 40% as opposed to 48%. Every vote and turnout would be validated.
Thank you for this column! I have been making the same argument, but have thought that change is impossible. I forgot about The National Popular Vote plan. It just makes so much sense. Every vote should count equally, and whoever gets the most votes should win.
I think it is a good idea, because the focus on just the swing states does seem to be very inefficient. But I can also imagine in states like Massachusetts, where a Republican winning the popular vote, and Mass having to commit its electoral votes to him or her would cause rioting in the streets. It will cause some very uncomfortable times in deeply ideological states, when the other side wins.
Stupid comment. Voters tend to know when a political race is close. It's more likely that the honest members of the "deeply ideological" Republican party will be rioting on November 7 when they realize all the lies they've been told by people like you aren't true.
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Why not use the "KISS" concept. He who gets the most votes wins. Every one knows that all those "folks" who live on the East and West coasts are more intelligent, better educated and know what is best for everyone. I am wearied by those foolish founding fathers who generated a constitution that required amending to really get it right. I am also wearied by columnists who cannot find something real to write about. Add the fellow commentor below who uses the term, "deeply idealogical Republican party" to my source of fatigue.
Scott: So, the advantage here is that the plan doesn't involve a change to the Constitution, but relies on a compact? How binding and/or Constitutional would it be? I certainly feel a little letdown when I vote for president, unless there's another important race on the ballot, that my vote doesn't matter much here. I used to be an "Electoral College" guy, for semi-sentimental/historical/nostalgic reasons, but why not go the whole way? Amendment: Popular vote determines the presidency? (Then we rewrite history and Gore becomes president in 2000 and we get a chance to try again.) Amendment: All political contributions have to come from an individual citizen.
I agree with your last sentence. I would add that there should be no anonymous political donors. I also believe if we want to go with a popular vote we should just amend the Constitution and be done with it. That would also require a mechanism for a national recount if there is a statistical tie, such as we had in 2000. Also, 2000 is ancient history; get over it. I did not vote for Bush in either of his campaigns, but he won the election. The fight in Florida regarding recounts was an exercise in bad behavior on the part of both candidates. Gore only wanted recounts in those districts in the Miami area that would have given him the win, while Bush wanted to limit the count in such a way as to preserve his win. The only voice of reason at the time was Ed Rollins, who insisted the only proper way to do a recount is to do it for the whole state. There's a strong probability Bush would have won in that scenario, but short of a national recount, it would have been more fair. As for NPVIC, it follows the Constitution, even though I don't like it.
Scott - The country has been over this for decades. The problem with using the popular voes is that less populated states have less say in the issues that matterr to them. Using the popular vote woiuld give significant advantages to states like NY and California and igonore needs of Wyoming and Utah.
This is why the framers of the Constitution structured the election process this way. You guys need to read past arguments to under stand why just the popular vote is not in the best interest of all Americans
Utah and Wyoming are already ignored, since they are reliably Republican, just as Massachusetts is ignored for being reliably Democratic.
it would probably increase voting. I bet there are people in MA that do not vote for a republican becuase they know it does not matter on the national stage. I think it could also open the door for more voter fraud (yes MORE).
OT - Warren did not feel the need to get a MA law license. She is a hoot.
On principle I disagree, Scot. If the goal is to give supremacy to the popular vote, amend the Constitution. Short of that, NPVIC is not really the best method of reform. How a State awards Electoral votes is up to the States, thus, in principle, the NPVIC is in line with Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. Maine and Nebraska, however, award Electoral votes by Congressional District. To my thinking this is far more reasonable, since NPVIC is still a 'winner take all' format. Awarding by district still carries the risk that the Party in control of a State's legislature will give in to the temptation to gerrymander districts, and it does not address the issue (perhaps suitable for another article?) that 435 is too restrictive and we should adopt the 'Wyoming Rule' to expand the ranks of the House as the population grows, but it is nevertheless a more reasonable reform. Ultimately, the argument about campaigns ignoring areas they consider either to be safe in their camp, or safe in the other side's camp isn't going to be resolved. Candidates will still focus on where they think they can sway swing voters to their side.
Does anyone else here miss TheSystemWorked? And what is it with these user names that are just the word "user" followed by a long number (there are several of them; different numbers) - are they illegal immigrants or something?
restraining order? :)
It's such a dumb idea. Candidates would campaign only in major cities... If you can take 70% of the vote in big cities like NYC, Chicago, LA, and Philly the election is basicaly over, there's nothing the other candidate can do regardless of how other areas of the country vote. We'd have candidates proposing laws that benefit urban areas, their domestic political platforms would be focused entirely on cities while people living in rural areas of the country would be renederd irrelevant, and policy would be shaped to reflect that. Lehigh claims candidates would visit states like Vermont and Maine?? Combined those states have a population under 2 million. NYC, LA, Chicago, Philly have a combined population over 16 million. If you were a candidate, where you be spending your campaing time and dollars?? The national vote idea works only when a population is spread out relatively evenly over an area, not when there are clusters of densely populated areas.
Guys, I'm interested in the point of view that if we make the change, smaller states would find themselves ignored. What small states save New Hampshire and Nevada are current getting any attention or having their concerns addressed? Begolf has it right: In places Massachusetts there's no incentive for Republicans to vote in a presidential election, and frankly, not that much for Democrats, in that they know the tally will already be lopsided. In places like Texas, there's not much incentive for Repubicans to vote, for the same reason. Meanwhile, would we see dubious policy like steel tariffs if the intent weren't to court Ohio and Pennsylvania? Or an unfunded prescription drug benefit if Florida were't so important? Obviously there are trade offs, but when you evaluated them, look at all the problems with the current system. Should the election really be up to voters in Ohio and Florida? And Republicans, recall that if 65,000 or so votes in Ohio had gone the other way last time, George W. would have lost the presidency, but won the popular vote. Of course, in 2000, the opposite occurred. No matter what side you are on, that prospect is just not good for the country. Scot
does it become more problematic if there is a 3rd party candidate? I really think this is going to happen in our near future.
@begolfing: excellent point, Harvey. Actually we already have them, but they are not yet major factors. There was Ross Perot in 1992, but Clinton had enough of a lead that the popular vote never would have been an issue. I agree in the future third party candidates may be more significant. Chances are, in the event of a tie for the lead in an election based on a popular vote we would need to have in place a system such as many parliamentary democracies have in which in the event of a tie there is a run-off election between the top two (or three, since three-way ties do occur, albeit rarely).
Does this mean, if Massachusetts were to hinge on a popular vote, we might get free cellphones from Obama like Ohio?
Nice try, but no banana. The real problem is the electoral college itself. The better plan would be to throw it out, and elect candidates based on an an actual counting of the popular vote. All your plan does is rig the present system in a way that makes it even less represntative of the will of the people.
The electoral college is your last defense against a down-and-out population voting for the next Adolf Hitler. The founding fathers didn't trust the masses any more back then than politicians do today. With reason. It was intended that your participation in our democracy would be limited to voting for the House of Representatives, they in-turn would vote for the Senators, and the senators would choose the president with the electoral college. The point was people would elect leaders who would make the tough decisions since society will never vote for tough decisions. Society will vote themselves entitlements soon enough, and shortly after that your country and your democracy are done. THAT is why you don't have elections based on 'popular vote'. You are well-served by the electoral college, even if most Americans don't understand it.
Great idea... only if you are a Democrat. You live in a constitutional federal republic, NOT a democracy! Get used to it!
What does being a Democrat have to do with it?
Look up the difference between 'constitutional federal republic' and 'democracy' and you'll start to get it. Or, just look at places like Libya and Egypt that were given 'democracy' but without the protections of a 'constitutional federal republic' that would protect that democracy and protect the rights of the minority. Put another way, in a democracy you can vote to outlaw blonds and to take their stuff on their way out. Hey we voted! But it is a 'federal republic' backed by the constitution that protects blonds and their stuff from mob-rule democracy! Without a federal republic and the constitution, you could vote to take anything away from any one. Wow. There was a time 5th graders understood these basics. It's no wonder there are so many Democrats today, you literally have to re-educated them one-by-one....
I do not often agree with Scott but this time I do. Were this plan in effect, we would have been spared eight years of W, not to mention actually becoming a democracy!
As I see it the fatal flaw in what Scot is suggesting is the potential implications of a nationwide recount if we ever had a repeat of 2000. It's not a stretch at all to suggest that a nationwide recount could quickly denigrate into civil war, and no I am not exaggerating.
While it's true that many states, including MA and TX are ignored, the real culprit is not the electoral college but MA and TX themselves (along with many other states). We would be a lot better off in MA with a viable GOP and TX would be a lot better off with a viable Democratic party. Permanent one party control is what enables situations such as we have in MA where three straight House speakers end up as convicted felons. MA and TX have no one to blame but themselves.
Irpy: But statistically, the potential for that kind of recount is vasly greater under the current system than it would be under a national system.
Lav: But this accomplishes the same thing, just without having to amend the Constitution. And if, by chance, it doesn't work well, you could easily go back to the old system, again without a constitutional amendment.
User: I don't discussion that posit an American Hitler are dealing in the world of realistic concerns.
Waytoo: Hey, am I mistaken, or are you fashioning real arguments today? Congrats, old boy. I knew you were capable of it. But here's the question: Even if you accept your premise -- and I think it's wrong -- do you think our current campaign is focusing on all of America? Or even the concerns of rural voters? Take NH. When the general election candidates visit, they aren't spending their time in the willywags. It's usually Manchester, sometimes Portsmouth. I think such a system would encourage candidates to do regular campaign swings in regions, rather than just hopscotching to swing states. Certainly if you came to Boston for a rally, you'd say, hey, let's hit Maine or New Hampshire or RI as well.
But surely you see the flaw in that argument. Pat Buchanan didn't get the GOP nomination. He was just a flash in the pan. We're not talking about changing the primary process, just the general election.
This is the current reality. I'm a reporter working on a small daily newspaper in Bowling Green, Ohio, a community of about 20,000. As the presidential campaign took shape we didn't wonder "what if Romney or Obama came to town?" Or even "maybe Romney or Obama will come to town." It was pretty much "when Romney and Obama come to town." The president was here this week; the former governor was here in July. The welcome mat's still out. And if they don't show up here, they're sure to pass through nearby Toledo. Every president since Reagan has come here, aside from George W. Bush, who did campaign in Perrysburg the next town over.
more horrible economic news: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-09-28/cue-stagflationary-recession-chicago-pmi-huge-sub-50-miss-back-september-2009-levels
Ohio: Not to put you on the spot, but do you think that, under the current system, there's perhaps a bit too much of a focus on the great state of Ohio? (Feel free to decline comment if you'd like.)
I would think the result would be presidential campaigns centered on urban areas, where there's the heaviest concentration of votes. Why campaign in rural areas when the best "bang for the buck" will be in around cities?
Where do you think the current campaign is taking place?
Hey everybody, here's a link to the NPV website. You can read their answer to the various arguments against the idea under the "answering myths" tab. (I think I would have called it, "answering objections," but that's another matter.) : http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/pages/answers.php
I don't believe that you are correct that the statistical probability of serious recount problems is higher under the current system than NPV. Even if you are, the implications of a needed recount under an NPV system would be disasturous as we would have to have a NATIONAL recount. The risk of a NATIONAL recount can't be overstated. If you think the allegations or voter fraud are tough to deal with now really think through what a national recount scenario would look like.
The other issue that you don't acknowledge is that NPV would effectively federalize the entire election process which in turn would create a huge number of equal protection legal arguments. Iowa would not be allowed to have earlier voting than everyone else, Washington couldn't vote by mail, Maine and Vermont wouldn't be allowed to allow felons to continue to vote as they do now, ballot access rules would be federalized (sorry Virgil Goode, no ballot access for you) and I'm sure there are thousands of other examples.
The only way to address those equal protection concerns would be the creation of another huge new national bureacracy like Homeland Security. Then we'd have two layers of government administering elections. Do you think the state and local governments would get smaller or would the federal layer be additive? Before you point out that Homeland Security was created by GWB, I know that already, still doesn't change my point.
While I agree with the idea as someone who would like to see a system that made it easier for a third party to get into the race I think I'd prefer to see a more proportional system, although you'd certainly have to make major changes to the electoral system. Frankly I think any change is a pipe dream. Conservatives have no desire to get into a popular vote contest. Especially if at the same time we went to universal registration. Not even getting into the ideological argument the fact is the alienation of certain sub-sections of the electorate would make popular vote elections very difficult for the Republican Party.
On the flip side I really prefer the Republic form of elections as opposed to the majority rules form. I fear if we slip away from the elcetoral college that we will start into a spiral in which everything should be majority rules. Frankly regardless of ideology I don't trust the majority.
Are you saying similar to the ways in which the republicans abused the filibuster rules over the last four years to protect their "principles". You see I'd agree with you but you only see it one way. Although somehow I doubt the Democrats will have to over the next four years.
truth vs reality: "the number of people whose telephones were the subject of pen register and trap and trace surveillance more than tripled. In fact, more people were subjected to pen register and trap and trace surveillance in the past two years than in the entire previous decade."-ACLU
A few thoughts - well if this new rule would mean more campaiign fliers and TV commercials than there already are - not sure I want that. HA HA Also - had a thought - the Republicans should think about changing their primary order. Iowa forces candidates to appeal to a very right wing base that really hurts them down the road becuase of what they promise and say to this group. And now look - Iowa is expected to vote blue. More moderate states should be up front so maybe a less offensive or more moderate candidate can be chosen. I have no idea where Romney falls in these categories because he has changed so many times.
System - The Romney running for the Republican nomination is not the same Romney who ran for Governor and is not the same now running for President. He has changed his tune so many times throughout the decade, I really have no idea how he would be as President and will accept 4 more years of Obama, despite some disappoitments with him.
"System" "Not saying that Republicans abused the filibuster at all and thanks for finally asking what I think instead of stating what you think I think as you've been prone to do in the past."
Are you serious? They didn't abuse the filibuster? You assuredly are living in a bubble.
"HHK' I agree with you that's kind of why I end up back at leaving it alone with all of its warts.
"System" You amuse me that's all. You said and I quote,"Not saying that Republicans abused the filibuster at all" any interpretation of English would say that means you hold that the Repubican's didn't abuse the filibuster. But that is how you argue, what I said is what I meant but you didn't understand the meaning of what I said.
It's really quite alright. I've said a zillion times you are okay by me. "bubble of incivility" I have no idea what you are talking about. You seem to be easily bruised while at the same time going on about the "hypocrisy" of others. I'm not sure why disagreeing with you or quoting you is so offensive. But hey if I misinterpeted the quote, "Not saying that Republicans abused the filibuster at all", to mean they didn't abuse the system. Well, excuse me.